Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anyone alive on the planet today is in a state of grief.

Anyone alive on the planet today is in a state of grief.  Unless we fully allow ourselves to inhabit the grief we carry, to drop our armor and stand naked in the midst of it, we cannot and will never be the embodiment of holiness that we are meant to be.  We will never fully experience life and our own trans-formative power if we are constantly running from our grief.  If we refuse that which wells up within us by forcing a stopper on the fount from which it rises, then we have no true freedom and exist in slavery to the necessary numbness this denial demands of us. 

Anyone alive on the planet today is in a state of grief.  Some are aware of this grief and seek to deny it through various means such as drugs or alcohol, some are aware and seek to medicate it ‘legitimately’ through pharmaceuticals, some are aware of it and lose themselves in its despair.  Still others are ignorant of their grief and spend their days in a false state of happiness, fully dependent on materialism, relationships, social structure and definition.  Others immerse themselves in a ‘spirituality’ that embraces the light like a drowning man embraces the buoy, acutely aware that he cannot survive the depths he is in and that letting go of that to which he clutches means death.  There are those whose grief has turned to anger and who find this a more comfortable state of being with its illusion of power and fierce protection.  These ones are no more powerful than a kitten – fierce though it may seem to the fly, it is after all still a kitten.

Anyone alive on the planet today is in a state of grief.   All those from whom the most evil deeds flow, all those from whom the kindest and most generous of deeds flow, all those who sit in stupefied silence share this state of grief. It is inescapable.  The leaders of the world share it as do the reality stars, the addicts, the rapper, the teacher and the old sage.  This grief resides and prevails; it paralyzes us, drives us, and defines us – we can know this truth or not know it. Either way, it persists.

For we are born into a system that is founded on the absolute need for the oppression of our spirits, our bodies and our minds.  We are born into a species that survives based upon the destruction and supplication of life and love and that demands that we surrender our humanity in payment for our comforts.   We know that our survival is at a tremendous cost to life elsewhere and that the price is too great and that we are no more worthy then those who suffer for our benefit.  And we know that we all benefit.  This secret knowledge is what feeds our despair and what forges the tools we need to manage it.

No one that sees the suffering and the carnage that is the result of our desperate desire for comfort and security, for material wealth and power, for immediate gratification can ever un-see it – be it innocent faces of starving and dying children, bodies tangled in the wreckage of corporate sweat shops or the acquiescent eyes of the caged and tethered pig awaiting slaughter.  These images sink into our bodies like a weight in a lake and may be forgotten on the surface but are ever present in our depths.

All life has always depended on the death of something other than itself.  This is a natural law and in the miracle of creation and the cycle of life, a beautiful thing.  For life to thrive there must be sacrifice.  The life of plants are required for our sustenance and for our shelter.  The life of one person is required to end so that there be space for the birth of another.  These are desirable states of sacrifice that are in order and in keeping with a natural law in perfect balance and harmony. And although all death elicits some measure of sorrow – from the infinitesimal to the profound, our minds, hearts and spirits can make peace eventually with these necessary loses.

However, no human soul can make peace with the state of this world in our time, so bound up in capitalism, patriarchy and consumerism.  Even the Corporate CEO knows that his exorbitant salary depends on the suffering of other sentient beings.  He may, on the surface, appear and behave not to care and he may even believe that this is a good and productive system he oversees.  Yet his soul is intimately tied with all of life, is in desperate need of love; to be both received and expressed, and is crying out for humanity to rise and stop the lunacy that we all create, uphold and call “progress”.
And he grieves; he grieves for the loss of life, of beauty and of promise.  He grieves at the unnecessary destruction and war that his greed requires and demands so that it be momentarily satiated.  At the bottom of the lake of his soul sits the weight of all he has seen and knows and denies, drowning in the tears he has not shed.

This is true for all of us.  Some of us are so consumed by this grief that we cannot see our way out of it.  We are rendered paralyzed by it; our paralysis allowing for its perpetuation.  Some rally against this unjust system…protest in a thousand ways as we fight for justice.  We congratulate ourselves for the baby steps we take when the system permits a small opening, then scream in anger as it closes once again and pushes us out or traps us inside.

So dismal this landscape we live on yet so unyielding our desire for change.  We have no time or inclination to embrace our grief, to lean into and come to know it, come to love that part of us that responds to evil not with rage but with grief, recognizing that evil is the absence of something tremendous…love.

Evil takes up the space that love is barred from when it is unknown and unexpressed.  It strangles out all else that might grow from the ground on which love is planted.  The rise of mental illness; depression and anxiety is equal to the rate at which we destroy this planet and all of creation, the inescapable truth of which is imparted to us through technological wizardry meant to feed an insatiable hunger.  And we just can’t hide from it.  The more we destroy, the more we destroy ourselves.  The more we grieve, the more we engage in excessive and self-indulgent behaviours meant to deny grief. 

We cover our grief in one of two ways; through rage or false happiness.  We see this through increased warfare, politically and personally.  We see this through the rise of corporate religion that promises happiness by boxing up overwhelmingly deep and sacred questions and hand feeding answers to the masses.  We see this in the glorification of the soldier and the shiny faced pastor, scowling and grinning at us from our TV and computer screens.

We could heal ourselves, each other and our planet if we were to only acknowledge the profound grief we carry; acknowledge it, express it and make room for it in our hearts and minds.  Our grief could be channeled authentically into action that reaches out, one to one, for our grief could make us strong, could make us whole, could make us rise.

What causes us to resist sinking into that tender space where sorrow awaits?  Are we fearful of the power of our grief and the beauty that could be revealed to us if we were peel back the layers of armor we have donned?  Our grief is evidence of our love and our deep and burning desire to connect.  Grief is a testimony to pure love – agape love – that which we are meant to achieve, to receive and to impart. 

The anguish we experience but refuse to acknowledge is confirmation of our innate wisdom that informs us of our connection to the whole of life, the web of creation, to all our relations.  If we were to sink into this we might well be rendered incapable of taking another step into the madness of our world.  Rather, we might fall to our knees, weak with despondency, overcome with emotion that we can no longer deny or ignore or medicate but must feel. What hope we could find there!  We could find each other there.

If I allow for my grief to move I awaken to the reality of love. I awaken to the beauty of tenderness and vulnerability – my own and yours.   With this awakening comes the sweet understanding that I can no longer hurt you or be hurt by you.  I needn’t rush to ‘closure’ for such a concept is an affront to my love and limits my capacity for love.  I instead walk with my grief, fueled with the energy of compassion, aware of my place in the web, with my hand outstretched – asking and fulfilling.

Anyone alive on the planet today is in a state of grief.   May your grief remind you of your compassion and your compassion remind you of your humanity. May the remembrance of your humanity be the impetus from which you evolve and transform; reaching out your hand to all of God’s Creation.  And may your grief lead you to the depths of tenderness from which you will rise.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Mystic

(I dedicate this to all those women who found the Sacred and Divine despite the confinements of the times they lived in...Women like St. Claire, St. Teresa and Hildegard of Bingen)

The Mystic

She stands within the empty cell; the only movement save her beating heart are the dust particles that float in the shaft of sunlight coming from the one high and tiny window.  No sound; no long intake of breath, no gentle swallow of saliva or shifting of the robes that drape her body, can be heard.  To look in upon this cell, to secretly and magically see through the stone walls, is as gazing upon a painting; mostly gloomy, colourless, but nonetheless inviting curiosity regarding the activity that must be occurring beyond the reach of the eye.

She stands long, the will of her body holding her upright beneath the rough grey material that cloaks it.  She has retreated to a darker corner of her chamber, her brow nearly resting where the walls meet.  The air grows stale and the small room hot as a powerful sun heats the ancient rocks of the cell.  You or I might nearly faint, confined within such a place, lacking water to cool our parched throat or muggy body.

Yet she stands; cloaked in heavy fabric, her hair hidden beneath a tightly wrapped scarf, so that she is devoid of character, made plain and unassuming, made invisible to a gaudy world.

Her countenance; hidden by a swath of cloth that reaches from her crown to her shoulders, like drapery framing a window parted only enough to reveal a sliver of the landscape beyond, paints no expression – lashes resting on tender and pale skin, lips non-committal and dull - a face with no expression, holding no clue to the universe unfolding behind it.

She is unaware of her own existence in this dark and silent place, unaware of aching legs or hungry belly as she is pulled effortlessly into an ever expanding void where the blackness around her is pierced with innumerable sparks of light – light that cannot or will not reach her but promises the eventuality of illumination.

She becomes aware of her own presence when she is visited with the knowledge of the inescapable aloneness that surrounds her.  She knows this companion well and it no longer frightens her for she has welcomed it thoroughly and it has become familiar.  The awareness of her presence awakens her to the countless lights around her and she feels the pull of one among the million and she eagerly submits to it.

Oh how it reaches for her this small and flickering light and how her companion rejoices each time it flashes a promising ray toward her.  There is the rising of anticipation within her quiet soul that is cautious and restrained.  And so she journey’s for perhaps eternity, but here time is nothing, neither is space, and she knows these to be the creations of small minds, measurements of the arrogant.  For at once she is embraced utterly in the warmth and brilliance of the distant star, no place around her hints of the darkness she journeyed through and the illumination is not shocking.

The light enfolds her but does not stop there; it pierces her skin through every pore.  It reaches in long strands of gold and silver to ignite each cell within her.  The space between each cell like the darkness she journeyed through to get here.  In this activity she has no earthly body for she expands beyond the confines of skin and bone until she is as vast as the universe around her, until she is one with both the light and the dark and there is no separation she can conceive of.  Desire overtakes her but has no object, is simply pure and unbridled, and she is free.

This light is most glorious and within it there are sounds unlike her ears could ever hear.  Each molecule of light like a tiny instrument that when joined with the whole creates a symphony of sound, music so sweet she cannot but cry.  As the tear falls down her cheek then descends past her neck to her breast she finds herself once again contained in her body, as she stands naked in the light.  All calmness descends over her and she is glad for this boundary, this body that welcomes her back.  It is in her naked sedation, unashamed and untethered, that she sees the shadow of her God come toward her.

He comes from the light as though all light converged to make up his magnificent form – he comes as light though his dark skin is most human.  Wounds upon his hands and feet shed ribbons of blood, blood he could shed forever; blood of unhealed wounds gladly bore.  His brown eyes are as gateways to a never-ending wilderness of peace, to fall into the darkness of his eyes would be to know the perfection of his grace.  He casts these upon her and she catches her breath as she is seized by shame at her nakedness.  But his eyes hold only love and wonder as though she is a long searched for and finally found treasure.  He gazes past her skin and she is exposed in an entirely different way.  She exhales as though for the first time.  He knows her sins and short-comings, he knows her fears and doubts, and the weight of his mercy overcomes her and she falls to her knees.  How can she deserve this?  How can she receive such grace?  Her mortality, even in this holy place, cannot contain such benevolence and she cries out her unworthiness.

Yet she cannot hide for there is nowhere he cannot follow and his eyes never falter in their gaze.  He comes to her and gathers her most gently into his arms.

Oh joy without end and for no purpose!  Oh joy so pure and new; joy devoid of small ideas of worthlessness, but boundless in its capacity to heal!  In joy she knows she never needed forgiveness, in joy she comes to know her own perfection, in joy she leaves all earth and flesh behind her and knows no separation between the Divine and her Soul.

He is whispering to her but no one word can be distinguished for all words and voices are riding on his breath and like a warm breeze caress her softly.  Breath of love, air of peace, winds of heaven rage over her.

How can this be tolerated, this terrible love that knows no end, that determinedly persists until its subject receives it?  Who can withstand such an assault as God can reign when the object of his desire is found?  But she must and she does, she submits and dissolves to all else.  She submits and blessedly ceases to exist in any manner not familiar with his love.

And within the tiny cell she now lays prostrate; her cheek resting on the rough stone floor.  No light comes from the window now as night has descended and the cell has grown cold.  No food or water has passed her lips these long hours and to the observer she would appear to have fainted – her thin body succumbing at last to its earthly needs.  But this is not the case, she herself is unaware of making the transition to the floor, no will of her own commanded the bending of her knees or the descent of her body.  Yet here she lay, still and pale, a tear from her eye the only indication of life beyond the form.

It is the coldness she first is aware of as it seeps past her heavy robes and bites at her skin.  Oh how she fights the coming of consciousness that cruelly pulls her back to the world.  But there it is…and once it takes hold she cannot stop its invasion, for the human body will have its desires known and will always reach for appeasement. 

Next comes the aching of muscles long held rigid and stiff to bear the body in its posture.  The awakening of muscles and joints that cry out for tender stretching brings her more fully to herself and she is being pulled back through eternity, back to a most powerful destination, the dominion of her mortal being.

Finally it is the waters of her body that nudge her to full conciseness so that she opens her eyes and in the darkness cries out in grief at being forced from her Divine Lover.  Her soul yearns to return, be it through the pain of death, but her body refuses to obey.

My God, my Love, take not your grace from me.” She whispers most urgently into the cover of night; these words less a prayer then an entreaty of need – sustenance for her soul to live.

She must rise, she knows this and grievously she does, her legs shaking, her belly on fire with hunger, her face wet with tears, the union with her Lord becoming memory; one that brings the rapture of the bond and the agony of parting and the excruciating desire to return.

So it is, a day and night; her destiny perfectly revealed, a betrothal forged in a simple cathedral where light and dark collide, where cacophony and harmony become the chorus of the matrimonial hymn.

And hidden in a fold of her garment a speck of colour dots the vastness of grey like a buoy upon a fearsome sea, the blood of a wound that shall never close but will save the life of the drowning.